COVID-19 Province-wide ‘Shutdown’ – updated 16 April, 2021

Ontario Strengthens Enforcement of Stay-at-Home Order

Based on the latest information from the provincial government on April 16, 2021, arborist services can continue in Ontario.

Here’s how the Provincial Government’s April 16, 2021 announcement impacts the arboriculture profession:

The services that the majority of commercial tree care companies offer fall under the list of essential services (Schedule 2 – Businesses that May open in Shutdown Zone), Supply Chains, Maintenance and Construction.   Arborists working for Municipalities should confirm with the Municipality to get written verification of their essential service.

Supply chains

  1. Businesses that supply businesses or places that are permitted to open within Ontario, or that supply businesses or services that have been declared essential in a jurisdiction outside of Ontario, with the support, products, supplies, systems, or services, including processing, packaging, warehousing, distribution, delivery, and maintenance necessary to operate.


  1. Snow clearing and landscaping services.


  1. Maintenance, repair and property management services that manage and maintain the safety, security, sanitation and operation of institutional, commercial, industrial and residential properties and buildings.


  1. Construction projects and services are required to ensure safe and reliable operations of, or to provide new capacity in, municipal infrastructure, and critical provincial infrastructure, including but not limited to transit, transportation, resource, energy and justice sectors.

There are many aspects of construction that are permitted during the shutdown.  If you are an Arborist working on a construction site, it is best to check with the site foreman / general contractor to get written verification.   Here is the list for some exceptions for commercial construction.

Workplace Health and Safety Requirements

All businesses and individuals are required to follow the health & safety regulation regarding the operation of a business.   Make sure you understand and comply with all requirements under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Employment Standards Act.  Note that new recommendations for eye protection are now in place due to concern about COVID-19 variants. Requirements include:

  • capacity limits
  • cleaning/disinfecting
  • working from home where possible
  • physical distancing
  • health screenings
  • PPE: both masks AND eye protection: Note eye protection would include goggles, safety glasses, prescription glasses with side shields that are tight fitting and should also be selected based on risk assessment. See IHSA’s recommendations here.

Employers need to understand their responsibilities as described under the COVID-19 response framework.

Find out what measures are in effect in your region and check your public health unit website for additional restrictions and requirements.

COVID-19 UPDATE: Ontario has declared a Provincial Emergency and initiated a province-wide ‘shutdown’ effective today Jan 14, 2021

See the details issued from the Province in this PDF »

Note that businesses permitted to open include “snow clearing and landscaping services” as well as aspects of construction site preparation, maintenance of a property’s safety & security, and municipal work. However, all individuals are being asked to “STAY AT HOME”. You’ll need to decide if and how you operate under these new guidelines.

If you choose to work, ensure you meet all the required health guidelines and be prepared to defend the work you’re doing as essential. Each municipality may have different rules as to what is “essential” — please check with your local municipality.

All businesses MUST meet requirements related to:

  • physical distancing
  • health screenings
  • PPE (masks and eye protection)
  • capacity limits
  • cleaning/disinfecting
  • and working from home where possible.

See pages 8-9 of the pdf above for all the details.

Ensure your workplace has a COVID safety plan (here’s a link to a template from the government of Ontario). Be sure to check with your local public health unit as they may have additional requirements.

We’ll continue to seek more clarity from the province (and have been and will continue to make the province aware of why tree care should be considered essential).

For more information from the province contact Ontario’s Stop the Spread hotline: